Thursday, February 17, 2011
Major General Richard Mills, the Marine Corps Commander in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, says training for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has already begun.
The President has not yet certified the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and it will not go into effect until 60 days after that.
But during a teleconference from Afghanistan to Camp Pendleton, Major General Richard Mills said training packages to prepare for the repeal have already arrived in Helmand Province.
Mills described the training as "quite extensive,” with a series of classes, including scenarios and discussion groups. He said the trainers are being trained, and Marines based at Camp Leatherneck will start going through the program as soon as the directive comes down from headquarters.
“It’s a little bit more difficult when you get out to where the fighting is going on,” he said. “But we will do it as soon as we can get them into an environment where they can sit, pay attention, be rested and take it seriously.”
The Commander of the Marine Corps, Major General James Amos, has said that training for a repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” could be a distraction for forces in a war zone.
San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter introduced legislation that would have allowed the Chiefs of the Army, the Navy, the Marines and the Air Force to weigh in on how the repeal would be implemented.
But Major Shawn Haney of the Office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs clarified that the Marine Corps issued a directive last week, laying out the time line to prepare for the policy change. In it, the training is rolled out in three phases, with orders that all Marines complete it by the end of May.
General Mills said it’s likely Marines in Afghanistan will receive the training as part of their “going home” debrief. He said if they do not finish it before they leave Afghanistan, they will complete the course at Camp Pendleton. He said he does not believe the change will be “earthshaking.”
“I think our young Marines today will be receptive to it,” he said.